South Carolina businessman donates water to West Virginians - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

South Carolina businessman donates water to West Virginians

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Three trucks of donated bottled water were delivered Jan. 11 in South Charleston Three trucks of donated bottled water were delivered Jan. 11 in South Charleston

Claude Burns was watching the national news from his home in South Carolina on Jan. 10.

As he saw the images emanating from West Virginia which detailed nine counties dealing with a life without safe water to drink or even bathe in due to a chemical spill in the Elk River, he felt compelled to do something.

Burns, who owns Burns Chevrolet in Rock Hill, S.C., contacted Joe Holland Chevrolet in South Charleston.

The purpose – to organize a donation of bottled water to help West Virginians.

Trucks containing several pallets of bottled water arrived at about 3 p.m. Jan. 11 as three drivers drove the water up I-77 to its destination. Soon after, people began lining up at Joe Holland Chevrolet to pick up a case of safe drinking water from the Palmetto State.

"Claude called us (on Jan. 10) and told us he wanted to do something," said Jeff Herrman, sales manager at Joe Holland Chevrolet and Imports. "He did this out of the kindness of his heart. He wanted to help another Chevy dealer, our employees and the community here.

"It just goes to show you," Herrman added, "There's a lot of bad things happening out there, but there are also a lot of good people left. This is a very gracious event."

Cars pulled up to the front of Joe Holland Chevrolet while employees helped carry cases of water to their trucks and backseats.

"We've been doing ok so far," said Jayleah Burs of Dunbar. "We're using bottled water, heating it up at home. We use it for drinking, cooking and brushing our teeth. We've been fortunate.

"I want to thank them so much," she added. "Whatever I have, I'm also going to help my neighbors at home."

Lowell Hamilton, a Burns Chevrolet employee, is a retired South Carolina Highway Patrol officer. He led the convoy.

"We've been watching on the news and we knew this is a real inconvenience," he said. "It's a pretty serious situation when it makes the national news. We knew it was bad.

"When I heard about it, I wanted to come," Hamilton added. "I didn't care what else I had going on. I was going to make sure this truck got delivered. It was a rough trip; the trucks were maxing out on their performance."

The gesture didn't surprise Hamilton.

"Claude (Burns) does an awful lot for his church," he explained. "It's beautiful country here. We knew this had to be done."